Hotel Chevalier, Wes Anderson's prequel to the forthcoming Darjeeling Limited, has been getting quite a bit of press this week — both because it's pretty unconventional to release a prequel like this and because Natalie Portman (briefly) gets naked in it. The 13-minute short film is available free on iTunes, and if you're a fan of Anderson, Portman, Jason Schwartzman or any combination of the three, it's worth checking out.
The short, which was made a year before Darjeeling started filming, takes place entirely in the Paris hotel room of Schwartzman's character. Portman plays his toothpick-chewing ex-girlfriend, who tracks him down in the hopes of a possible fling. It's a quiet little story — translation: not a whole lot happens — but it's certainly intriguing. It made me wonder what happened between the two of them in the past, and I wonder whether that will be explained in Darjeeling proper.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Anderson once considered making shorts to fill in the back stories of the other two main Darjeeling characters, who are played in the movie by Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody. Now, I really wish he had; if Hotel Chevalier is intended to raise my interest in Darjeeling, it definitely worked. Check it out, then come back and let me know what you think.